Doctor Who: Season 18, Episode 21

The Keeper of Traken: Part One (31 Jan. 1981)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
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Returning to N-Space, The Doctor and Adric are summoned to Traken, a planet of peace and harmony. The Keeper of Traken is nearing the end of his 1000-year-old reign and one of the Traken ... See full summary »



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Title: The Keeper of Traken: Part One (31 Jan 1981)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Matthew Waterhouse ...
Anthony Ainley ...
Sheila Ruskin ...
Denis Carey ...
The Keeper
John Woodnutt ...
Sarah Sutton ...
Margot Van der Burgh ...
Robin Soans ...
Roland Oliver ...
Geoffrey Beevers ...
Melkur (voice)


Returning to N-Space, The Doctor and Adric are summoned to Traken, a planet of peace and harmony. The Keeper of Traken is nearing the end of his 1000-year-old reign and one of the Traken consuls is to become the next Keeper. The Doctor, Adric, Tremas (the Keeper Nominate) and Nyssa (his daughter) set about to stop the Melkur, a calcified figure believed to be a "Source of Evil" trying to destroy the Traken Union, only to later discover it is the guise of a old enemy of the Doctor - The Master - who plans to take control of The Source (the keystone of Union) so he can regenerate into a new body. Written by Daniel Williamson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

31 January 1981 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Francesca Annis was originally asked to play Kassia. See more »


[first lines]
Adric: So, this is N-Space?
The Doctor: Yes, the old home universe. It's many times larger than anything you're used to.
Adric: All those stars.
The Doctor: Yes.
Adric: Do you know them all?
The Doctor: Well, just the interesting ones.
Adric: How can you tell which is which?
The Doctor: Well, law of probability, that sort of thing, you know. Anyway, we're supposed to be on our way back to Gallifrey.
Adric: I don't see what the law of probability's got to do with it.
See more »


Referenced in 'Doctor Who': The Pertwee Years (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Power Is The Root Of All Evil
21 January 2014 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Escaping from E-Space the Doctor and Adric are surprised to find a holographic image appear in the Tardis . The image is the Keeper from the Planet of Traken whose title is about to be passed on but senses an evil force is about to show itself on his home world

One thing I do notice about the NuWho fanboys and girls is that they consider classic Who to be composed of poor special effects and production values and long boring talkative scenes . What they fail to grasp is that the lack of spectacle is more than compensated for by drama . The Keeper Of Traken is very much a case in point . It contains no location filming , little in the way of special effects and for four 25 minutes of television all that happens is characters stand around talking .... and talking ... and talking

But ...

This is to miss the entire point . The Baker era was about to end very shortly and event television didn't need apocalyptic imagery or Hollywood spectacle to mark any of this and wouldn't have been possible anyway . Instead what we have is four episodes of very solid drama and shows what can be done by a talented production team At the centre of the story is the age old fable of people being corrupted by power . As human beings we're all greedy for money and as Bertrand Russell pointed out even if you built a society that'd make it impossible to be greedy for money you'd still have a system where some people would sell their metaphorical souls in order to gain power and this story is an extension of all this and there's perhaps a nod to Tolkien " One keeper to rule them all "

The stylised studio bound dialogue heavy scenes might be something of a turn off but this helps to give the performances and plotting space to breath and when the plot turns do happen they're often an absolute shock . Watching it in 1981 my jaw was literally on the floor in an OMG moment when the secret of the Melkur was revealed as was the villain of the piece along with the shock ending to episode four . The only downside was I knew Nyssa would be joining the Tardis crew and scenes with Adric fail to spark any chemistry . Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse have the charisma of a couple of drowned haddocks but one wonders if this platonic and innocent character interaction is preferable to the sexually charged all hormone companions we get nowadays ?

So there's not much wrong with this story which sets up the series about to take to a radical change that will lead the show in to a new era with a new Doctor

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